Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review: Ember by Rachel Van Dyken

I am a Killer. A Rapist. A Monster.
I know only pain and survival.
That is until the Cappo's sister walked into my life.
And changed everything.

She's a light who makes my darkness darker, her smile makes my heart turn to ice, and I can't escape the fear her seductive looks instill--knowing it's only a matter of time before I fail--again, and take her for myself.
This is the story of my redemption.
But it's not pretty...I died, and now I'm alive, but not living, breathing but not surviving. I am Phoenix De Lange, son to a murdered mob boss, estranged brother, horrible friend, monster in the making, newest leader to one of the most powerful families in the Cosa Nostra.
And I will have my vengeance.
Or die trying.
I am Phoenix De Lange.
Death is all I know.
Until she offers me a piece of life--I can't resist taking.

4.5 Stars!

Review by Jen Hagen 
I have come to enjoy every one of Ms. Van Dyken’s books about these crazy mafia kids.  They never fail to crack me up.  They wield their guns at each other like most kids would a lollipop.  They shoot each other in the shoulder in anger whereas any other friend would just give you the finger and the f-bomb with maybe a gut punch thrown in.  Even though they are mafia bosses, they still are young and maintain a sense of humor.  I guess in their line of work they have to have a sense of humor or the darkness will overtake them.  Such is the case of Phoenix.  Out of all the characters introduced to us thus far, he is the one with the darkness – the one whom we should all despise because of his past despicable acts.

I’m evil.  I raped girls.

Here is my disclaimer when it comes to Phoenix…I did not read book 1.5 where it is told from the guys’ POV.  For some reason that book slipped through my radar and ended up in the hands of another reviewer.  If I had read it, I am fairly certain that my perception of Phoenix would be somewhat different.  I know he did horrid acts, and it is briefly told in this book along with the number of women he violated.  But in this book I saw a lonely man, a man broken by his past and not being able to move forward because he does not feel like he is justified to feel anything but displeasure.  He doesn’t even eat real food because that would be enjoyable and he does not feel he is worthy of enjoying anything.  He is surviving on green produce blended into a shake. 

Phoenix has been keeping watch over the head mafia boss’s sister – Bee.  She’s a firecracker and is determined to get Phoenix to eat lasagna.  She knows he would enjoy it but he fights her on every turn trying to fend off any enjoyment.  The fight and pull towards each other becomes more than just about lasagna.   Bee has feelings towards Phoenix but they are only one-sided because Phoenix would never allow himself to feel passion let alone be it with his boss’s sister. 

Pushing her away was for the best.  Because the only other option was holding her close.  And nobody wanted the monster to get the girl – that wasn’t how stories were told, that was not how happy endings were found.  I deserved my darkness and only a truly selfish individual would be alright with tugging the innocent into hell with them.

Phoenix is given a second chance at perfecting life and it made my heart swell with warmth, but the history behind his happiness made me sick. 


As with all the other books in this series, there are secrets hidden and this one will rock the family to the core because of the betrayal.   Phoenix is once again in the spotlight because of his past acts.

“Were you going to kill me?  Would you have followed through with the plan?”
He didn’t hesitate, simply said, “Yes.”
“Because I wanted to live.”
“And I don’t deserve to?”
“You’re Phoenix De Lange.  When did you ever deserve life?”

Phoenix may have done despicable acts in the past, but now he is a changed man and is able to feel happiness.  I can’t hold it against him because of his past (but again this may have been a different feeling had I read his POV) so I was extremely happy that he found the enjoyment and redemption in life once again.

I definitely want to stress the need to read book 1.5.  I really felt lost without Phoenix’s backstory. There will be another book in the series featuring a character that no very little about…somebody who was a ghost and in hiding for year.   I look forward to seeing these mafia men and their humor coming soon. 

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